Chicago, Nov 27, 2015: The Consulate General of India organized the celebration of Constitution Day in the city today. This was the first time that such a celebration was organized.
As the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, the Modi government has decided to celebrate the day as Constitution Day from this year onwards. Following this, the Consulate General of India in Chicago also organized the celebrations on the evening of November 27.
During the celebration, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the Consul General of India addressed the gathering. The audience was also shown two movies ‘Taana Baana- The wrap & Weft of India’ and ‘India – The Spirit of Freedom’ that highlighted various aspects of the Constitution.
It was a one-hour event and ended with light refreshments.
No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”
Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.
It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.
Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:
In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.
Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.
As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.
While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.
According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.
Father of our Constitution, Dr. BR Ambedkar said in the constituent assembly in December 1946, “I know today we are divided politically, socially, and economically. We are a group of warring camps, and I may go even to the extent of confessing that I am probably one of the leaders of such a camp.”
Constitution was the solution to bind the divided India after Independence and our forefathers put their souls to give us the constitution which gives us liberty, equality and fraternity. The only thing they expected was to preserve it for the generations to come and here we stand, 70 years after Independence, trying with all our might to put their efforts in vain by disrespecting our constitutional ideals. From killing daughters to saving the superficial honour to forcing young scholars to commit suicide because of their caste, shows we failed to pay heed to the warnings of Dr BR Ambedkar when he handed over this Constitution to us.
His vision is at stake and to save it we need to understand it.
PREAMBLE: MIRROR OF HIS IDEALS
BR Ambedkar said,” It was indeed a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life and which cannot be divorced from each other: Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from the fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality cannot become a natural course of things.”
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: LINKING WITH PREAMBLE
The practicality to his three ideals stated in the preamble was given in the fundamental rights. Some of the rights reflecting his ideals are: “Right to Equality” from article 14 to 18 prohibiting all sorts of discrimination and equality before the law and “Right to Freedom from article 19 to 22 giving freedom of speech, expression and right to life and liberty.
But he also knew, these rights won’t help anyone unless some legal provisions are made to safeguard these. So came in the Article 32 which provides the right to all citizens of the country to approach the Supreme Court if their fundamental rights are being violated.
BR AMBEDKAR AND THE DOWNTRODDEN
The sole purpose of the Constitution was to unite Indians in a democracy. From his experience as an untouchable, Ambedkar knew that the first step to give justice to the idea of a constitution was to improve the conditions of the oppressed untouchables whose voices were unheard since ages and to give them opportunities to be at par with the so-called “high castes”. Besides fundamental rights, there was a need for special provisions for the “Dalits (untouchables)”. His proposal of Separate Electorates (wherein only an untouchable voter would have right to cast their vote for the untouchable candidate without the influence from the higher castes) was strongly resented and replaced by the reservation of seats known as “Policy of Inclusion”.
The other ignored sections of the society were women and he knew the progress of a nation is possible by the progress of women. He was touched by how women were used as objects, whose lives were controlled by their male counterparts. He said, “Let each girl who marries stand up to her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend, equal and refuse to be his slave.” He drafted the Hindu Code Bill sanctioning divorce and expanding property rights of widows and daughters. The strong opposition from the patriarchal Indian society didn’t let it pass and Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the post of Law Minister.
THE THREE WARNINGS
Though not able to include some provisions, his vision was noble and his contribution selfless. He gave us three warnings while handing over the world’s best constitution.
Holding to “Constitutional Methods” for achieving the social and economic objectives
Avoid hero worship regardless of how great or tall the leader is
Not to be content with mere political democracy
The question that arises is that have we done justice to our constitution in 7 decades of Indian Independence? The answer lies around us where the citizens have turned a deaf ear to the warnings that came with it.
The recent “Jat Agitation” for the reservation, where people were taking law in their hands, destroying public property and raping women proves how we as a nation have failed to give respect to our Constitution. Abandoning constitutional methods, people are out there creating havoc.
ROHITH VEMULA SUICIDE
Coming to another warning, we have upheld the concept of “One Man One Vote and One Vote One Value” but do we consider “One Man One Value”? The answer is NO. Much to the fears of Dr. Ambedkar, we have sidelined social democracy. The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit Ph.D. scholar in the Hyderabad Central University, who blamed his birth as a “fatal accident” speaks volumes of the injustice in our society which failed to free itself from the clutches of casteism. This is not just one example of injustice. Every day, hundreds and thousands of atrocities are done against Dalits.
Ambedkar said, “Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics Bhakti or hero-worship, is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”. In the context of demonetization, is the government becoming a dictator? What was known as a step to eradicate black money, resulted in the deaths of innocent ones and the real black money with the big business houses is still in circulation.
If we want to our children to live in a nation our forefathers dreamt of, we need to take the onus of upholding our constitution.
New Delhi, May 9, 2017: After Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last month that he will be abolishing the existing 457 Visa programme, currently used by temporary foreign workers to gain employment, the country’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said on Tuesday that she did not expect the move to affect Indians much.
Speaking at a media interaction organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps here, Sidhu said the move to abolish the 457 Visa programme was aimed to ensure that people who come to Australia should be properly qualified.
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The 457 Visa programme is used mainly to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries and the majority of such visa holders came from India, Britain and China. Turnbull’s statement, coming days after he visited New Delhi, caused a lot of consternation in India.
According to government statistics, 95,758 people were living in Australia under 457 Visa programme last year, with the highest proportion coming from India (24.6 per cent), followed by Britain (19.5 per cent) and China (5.8 per cent).
Sidhu said that most of the Indian 457 Visa holders work in the IT sector and, given the “great shortage” of IT workers in her country, “we expect Indians to continue to qualify” for Australian visas.
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“This (457 Visa) is just a temporary visa that allowed people to come and work for a week to four years,” she said.
She said that the number of student visas issued to Indians has also continued to rise over the last three years.
From 46,000 student visas issued in 2014, the number rose to 53,000 in 2015 and to over 60,000 in 2017, the High Commissioner said.
As for incidents of racism in Australia, Sidhu, who is a person of Indian origin, said that Australia was “one of the most successful multicultural societies” with people from 120 countries.
“There is a policy of zero tolerance at all levels of government (on racism),” she said.
In this connection, she also pointed out that 48 per cent of Australia’s total population of 24 million are first and second generation migrants.
As for India-Australia ties, the High Commissioner said that both countries shared “a fairly strong bilateral relationship”.
She said that during Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to India last month, he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to “add fresh momentum” to the bilateral ties.
Stating that both countries shared common strategic and security interests, Sidhu said that military ties were growing in numbers, “notably bilateral naval exercises”.
She also said that both countries shared a “strong economic relationship” while mentioning that Modi and Turnbull have agreed to “move forward” on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Later this year, the largest ever Australian trade delegation will visit India for the Australia Trade Week.
According to the High Commissioner, the personal relationship between Modi and Turbull is very important for growth of businesses in both countries. (IANS)